Crash! Landen’s Best Movies of 1988
Ok, so this no longer a Top 11. I wanted to put a really good horror (comedy) film on my list because there were some great horror flicks coming out of 1988. The original Child’s Play which was so much better than the sequels. The updated Blob was entertaining. Some other genre films (sci fi and otherwise) included the George Lucas/Ron Howard ‘failure’ Willow (that I enjoyed thoroughly)… John Carpenter’s class warfare sci fi flick They Live… Rowdy Roddy Piper made for a great action hero and should’ve gotten some better movies after that, but didn’t. This also had the longest and greatest fight over whether Keith David would put on sunglasses or not. Alien Nation which spawned the drastically inferior TV series… Some other films that didn’t quite make my Top 10… The baseball scandal flick Eight Men Out… Gorillas In The Mist… Big (that I always thought was just a liiiittle overrated)… Biloxi Blues that had a great performance by Christopher Walken… But, anyway… Here’s my (UPDATED) Top 10… 11…. (Back to a True Top 10 now.)
Update: A Cry In The Dark
Update #2: Crusoe
Waxwork (Bumped from the list. Has a lot of style to it and is a very slick (and dare I say ‘sexy’) horror film. Zach Galligan is great in the lead. Deborah Foreman and Michelle Johnson light up the screen in every scene they’re in. Has some of the coolest monster FX and takes on the most iconic of Universal’s horror creatures. Has some great cameos by the likes of John Rhys-Davies and Patrick MacNee… And David Warner plays the lead villain. What more do you want?)
Stand and Deliver (Also Bumped…Edward James Olmos in one of his best roles and he’s had a few good ones. Thought Lou Diamond Phillips was going to have a bigger career after movies like this and La Bamba…. “Break you’re neck like a chicken…”)
(Dangerous Liaisons didn’t quite make my Top 10 and maybe it should. It is a better film than some of the others on my list, but when considering genres, I think, for instance, Coming To America succeeded more as a comedy than this does as one of those grand period pieces. I try to judge the films by what they attempt to do and how well they succeed at that. And except for my top 4, this could easily be switched with one of the films on my list.)
10 Rain Man (Iconic. Cruise playing the same ‘hothead’ role as he always does, but it works in this. Hoffman memorable as Ray. Valeria Golino is a standout in this, also.)
9 Frantic (One of Harrison Ford’s greatest acting roles. A very fun and quirky suspense thriller as all of Polanski’s movies usually are. And Emmanuelle Seigner is blisteringly hot in this.)
8 Crusoe (A quietly intelligent reworking of Robinson Crusoe.)
7 Midnight Run (To me, this movie more than any other proves how great of an actor that Robert Deniro is. There are 2 scenes that still get me in this. Robert Deniro does very little and evokes an emotional response. The film itself is very well done. it’s funny as it’s supposed to be. It’s a road pic. It’s surprising. Justa great movie. very underrated IMHO.)
6 A Fish Called Wanda (An intelligent comedy with some more of the Monty Python alumni, Jamie Lee Curtis still in her prime and Kevin Kline in maybe his best role.)
5 Cinema Paradiso ( Sad, but in a good way. A film about lost love, memory, nostalgia and finding your place in the world.)
4 The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (A highly underrated film. Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam directs one of his masterpieces and the kind of subject matter that he seems to always come back to: the question of whether imagination is that thing that keeps us young. Several great cameos by the likes of Oliver Reed, Jonathan Pryce, Uma Thurman, and Robin Williams among others. Eric Idle another Python guy is great in this as the sidekick to John Nevlle’s Munchausen.I think this was also Sarah Polley’s first big movie role.)
2 Die Hard (Why is this so high on my list? You actually have to ask? Maybe the best action film ever made if you consider everything that makes this film so good. It is tremendously inventive in its action sequences. Big explosions, crashes, jumps, falls, gunfights, fist fights… It has everything. It has great villains; maybe one of the best villains ever in Alan Rickman’s cool Hans Gruber. It had a clear, well told story with lots everything that constitutes great writing. Twists and turns. Foreshadowing. Red herrings. Distinctively interesting characters. It was a seriously dramatic film with dark comedy interspersed throughout. Comedy relief came in several forms: VelJohnson’s cop Al Powell… The FBI team of Johnson and Johnson (No relation)… Hart Bochner hamming it up as the coke addled Ellis… De’voreaux White as the limo driver Argyle…And Die Hard featured 2 of the best at portraying onscreen ‘jerk’ characters: The great Paul Gleason as the Chief and William Atherton as Thornburg the slimy reporter. Bonnie Bedelia plays a strong woman role as the separated wife.
And then there’s Bruce Willis. Already a TV star, I can think of noone else that could’ve made this movie any better. Knowing that Harrison Ford and Tom Selleck were the first in line to play John McClane is unfathomable. A lot of people think this made Bruce Willis a star and they be right, but I have to wonder if this movie would have worked as well without him. His penchant for delivering sarcastic lines fit perfectly with the tone of the film.
Die Hard is just a fun film with a great premise. It’s even a Christmas movie.
1 A Cry In The Dark (Die Hard was my #1 for 1988 until I saw this. Please remember that these aren’t a list of my favorites, they’re a list of which movies that I think were the best… Best made, best story, best acted/directed, best at what they do, best in their genre, etc. I normally would say that I would rather see Die Hard over this, too, but since I’ve seen that one about 12 million times and A Cry In The Dark, but once… well, right now I’d rather see this one. This won a Meryl Streep a Best Actress award at the Oscars as it should have. I think Sam Neill was also deserving of Best Actor. It’s the true story of a media frenzy over a the death of a baby by a dingo and where the Australian mother was wrongly accused of murder. This was the best film I’ve seen in a while.
What’s funny is I actually hate when I find a film this good, because then I have to place it in my Lists, the hard thing being renumbering my Top 100 (in this case the 80s), but this is deserving. Great film. Good enough for me to place it over s movies that I have long admired after just one viewing.